Authorities have said England may have targeted black people because he wanted to avenge the death of his father, who was shot by a black man in 2010. But England, who describes himself as Cherokee Indian, has said he has no ill will toward black people.
The senior pastor at the First Baptist Church North Tulsa, where civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke in the days following the shootings, said the trial will provide “some sense of satisfaction.”
“Obviously, it won’t bring back those who unfortunately perished, but I’m just happy to see justice and two young men being brought to trial,” Anthony Scott said.
At a hearing in July, England’s uncle testified that England and Watts treated the mass shootings as a contest. Timothy Hoey said Watts told him a day after the killings that Watts and England each shot two people and England shot the fifth victim “that would break the tie,” Hoey said.
Hoey also testified that the day after the shootings, England used racial slurs to describe whom they shot. During that emotional testimony, England and Watts were stone-faced, sometimes looking down at the floor.
Cindy Wilde, the mother of England’s ex-girlfriend, said Friday she had hoped prosecutors would seek life in prison for England instead of capital punishment. But, she added, she’s turned everything “over to the Lord” because she can’t bear wrestling with the crimes England is accused of committing anymore.
“That’s the only way I can get on with my life is to give it up to Him,” she said. “I can’t deal with it. It’s God’s choice on what happens now.”